Access control design using additional security requirements


Complete the Access control design prior to undertaking this advanced tutorial.

In the first tutorial, the fictional company, OrcaBank, designed an architecture with role-based access control (RBAC) to meet their organization’s security needs. They assigned multiple grants to fine-tune access to resources across collection boundaries on a single platform.

In this tutorial, OrcaBank implements new and more stringent security requirements for production applications:

  1. First, OrcaBank adds staging zone to their deployment model. They will no longer move developed applications directly in to production. Instead, they will deploy apps from their dev cluster to staging for testing, and then to production.

  2. Second, production applications are no longer permitted to share any physical infrastructure with non-production infrastructure. OrcaBank segments the scheduling and access of applications with Node Access Control.


Node Access Control is a feature of MKE and provides secure multi-tenancy with node-based isolation. Nodes can be placed in different collections so that resources can be scheduled and isolated on disparate physical or virtual hardware resources.

Team access requirements

OrcaBank still has three application teams, payments, mobile, and db with varying levels of segmentation between them.

Their RBAC redesign is going to organize their MKE cluster into two top-level collections, staging and production, which are completely separate security zones on separate physical infrastructure.

OrcaBank’s four teams now have different needs in production and staging:

  • security should have view-only access to all applications in production (but not staging).

  • db should have full access to all database applications and resources in production (but not staging).

  • mobile should have full access to their Mobile applications in both production and staging and limited access to shared db services.

  • payments should have full access to their Payments applications in both production and staging and limited access to shared db services.

Role composition

OrcaBank has decided to replace their custom Ops role with the built-in Full Control role.

  • View Only (default role) allows users to see but not edit all cluster resources.

  • Full Control (default role) allows users complete control of all collections granted to them. They can also create containers without restriction but cannot see the containers of other users.

  • View & Use Networks + Secrets (custom role) enables users to view/connect to networks and view/use secrets used by db containers, but prevents them from seeing or impacting the db applications themselves.

Collection architecture

In the previous tutorial, OrcaBank created separate collections for each application team and nested them all under /Shared.

To meet their new security requirements for production, OrcaBank is redesigning collections in two ways:

  • Adding collections for both the production and staging zones, and nesting a set of application collections under each.

  • Segmenting nodes. Both the production and staging zones will have dedicated nodes; and in production, each application will be on a dedicated node.

The collection architecture now has the following tree representation:

├── System
├── Shared
├── prod
│   ├── mobile
│   ├── payments
│   └── db
│       ├── mobile
│       └── payments
└── staging
    ├── mobile
    └── payments

Grant composition

OrcaBank must now diversify their grants further to ensure the proper division of access.

The payments and mobile application teams will have three grants each–one for deploying to production, one for deploying to staging, and the same grant to access shared db networks and secrets.

OrcaBank access architecture

The resulting access architecture, designed with MKE, provides physical segmentation between production and staging using node access control.

Applications are scheduled only on MKE worker nodes in the dedicated application collection. And applications use shared resources across collection boundaries to access the databases in the /prod/db collection.

DB team

The OrcaBank db team is responsible for deploying and managing the full lifecycle of the databases that are in production. They have the full set of operations against all database resources.

Mobile team

The mobile team is responsible for deploying their full application stack in staging. In production they deploy their own applications but use the databases that are provided by the db team.